Judge refuses to sequester jury in the trial of the Michael Jackson case

Jurors will sleep in their own beds during the upcoming trial of Michael Jackson’s personal physician.

A judge rejected a defense request Thursday for round-the-clock sequestration of the panelists, saying he was confident jurors will heed his warnings to avoid what is anticipated to be intense media coverage of the televised proceedings.

“I expect that the jurors will follow the high road and that means that they will not be in the receipt of or in contact with information regarding this case” outside the courtroom, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said at a hearing.

Lawyers for Dr. Conrad Murray, who stands accused of involuntary manslaughter, had argued for isolation of the jurors in light of opinionated television commentary of the Casey Anthony trial this summer.

The judge said jurors will be kept away from reporters in the courthouse and instructed often that reading or watching coverage of the case will result in serious consequences such as contempt of court charges, incarceration and financial penalties.

“I have tremendous faith in the jury system and in the individual promises of jurors,” he said.

Pastor said the cost of sequestration was a factor although not the determining one. Hotel rooms and other sequestrations expenses would set the cash-strapped court system back more than $500,000, he said.

After the judge denied the sequestration request, defense attorney Ed Chernoff said the judge should ban cameras in the courtroom during testimony to blunt the effect of legal analysts on cable TV.

The judge refused.

“Yes, in all likelihood there will be talking heads. Frequently talking heads are talking through other body parts,” Pastor said.

Jury selection begins Sept. 8.


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